Intermittent fasting is a popular fitness and health trend in the world. Many people have adopted this form of fasting to lose weight, simplify the lifestyle, and improve their health. Many types of research and studies have suggested that it can benefit our brain and body and help us live longer and healthier. This article contains the ultimate beginner’s guide for intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermediate fasting is a well-planned eating pattern that works between the period of eating and fasting. This plan doesn’t specify which food items you should consume. Instead, it determines when you should consume your meals. Common intermittent fasting plans involve fasting for 24 hours twice a week or fasting for 16 hours daily.
Fasting is a practice that has been used through much human evolution. Ancient hunters or gatherers did not have any refrigerators, supermarkets, or food available throughout the years. As a result, humans have evolved to be able to function without food for an extended period.
However, fasting from time to time is healthier and more natural than consuming 3-4 meals per day. People also perform fasting for spiritual or religious reasons, including Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Why Would You Do It?
Well, most importantly, it is an excellent method to get fit and healthy without performing any crazy diet plans or cutting down on your calories to nothing. In fact, in intermittent fasting, a person tries to keep the calories count the same by consuming bigger meals in a short time frame. Additionally, this method is very beneficial and an excellent way to keep our muscle mass while losing weight.
The main reason why people adopt intermittent fasting is to lose extra weight and fat. Perhaps, intermediate fasting is one of the easiest and simplest methods to adopt to lose all the lousy weight and maintain a good weight. It requires minimal diet and behavioral change.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
To understand how intermittent fasting helps lose weight, we first need to understand the significant difference between the fasted state and the fed state.
A body is in the fed state when it is absorbing and digesting the food. Typically, this state starts when an individual begins consuming, and it lasts for 4-5 hours as the body absorbs and digests the food consumed. When an individual is in the fed state, it becomes tough for the body to burn excess fat as the insulin levels are relatively high.
After that period, the body goes into the postabsorptive state, which is just a fancy term stating that our body isn’t processing our meal. This post-absorptive state lasts up to 8-12 hours after our last meal, which is also when our body enters the fasted state. It becomes straightforward for a body to burn excess fat during this state as the insulin levels are relatively low.
When a person is in the fasting state, his body starts burning fat that was highly inaccessible during the fed state.
As a body does not enter the fasted state until 8-12 hours after the last meal, it is scarce that a body is in this fat-burning state. This is one of the main reasons why many individuals who have adapted intermittent fasting have lost weight without changing the eating habits, how much they consume, or how often they workout. Intermittent fasting puts a body in a fat-burning state that you cannot achieve by following a regular eating schedule.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Listed below are the health benefits provided by intermittent fasting:
- Weight loss:
As mentioned above, intermittent fasting helps an individual lose excess weight and belly fat without consciously restricting calorie consumption.
- Insulin resistance:
Intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance by lowering the blood sugar level by 6% and by fasting insulin levels by 31%, which can protect against diabetes.
Some research and studies have shown a reduction in inflammation components, which are also the main reason for developing specific chronic diseases.
- Heart health:
Intermittent fasting can also reduce harmful LDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, blood sugar level, markers of inflammation, and blood triglycerides, significant factors for developing heart diseases.
Many prototype types of research and studies have suggested that intermittent fasting can also prevent cancer risk.
- Brain health:
Intermittent fasting helps in increasing BDNF, a brain hormone that can aid the growth of nerve cells. It can also protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Different Intermittent Fasting Schedules
If you plan to follow intermittent fasting, there are different periodic fasting schedules that one can follow.
- Daily Intermittent Fasting/ Leangains Model of Intermittent Fasting:
Daily intermittent fasting or Leangains model of intermittent fasting uses 8 hours of eating, followed by 16 hours of the fasting period. When an individual starts, his 8 hours eating period does not matter, and you may begin at 1 pm and stop at 9 pm. Or you may start at 7 am and stop at 3 pm. Make sure you adopt the suitable timing for you. One of the most comfortable eating periods is 1 pm to 8 pm, as during this time you can consume both your lunch and dinner comfortably with your family and friends.
- Weekly Intermittent Fasting:
Weekly intermittent fasting is one of the best methods. This means you would fast once a week. Weekly intermittent fasting has shown many health benefits, such as helping an individual live longer, making your day more comfortable and more straightforward, and reducing stress. For example, lunch on Sunday is your last meal of the day, and then you start fasting until lunch on Monday. This fasting mode allows you to consume every day of the week while still providing intermittent fasting benefits for 24 hours.
- Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting:
Alternate day intermittent fasting consists of more extended fasting periods on every alternate day throughout the week. For example, an individual consumes dinner on Sunday night and then does not eat anything until Monday evening. On Tuesday again, he can eat throughout the day, and also after dinner, he has to start a 24 hours fasting cycle till Wednesday evening. This cycle allows an individual to follow long fasting periods on a very consistent basis while allowing him to eat at least one meal.
Frequently Asked Questions, Complaints, And Concerns
Listed below are the answers to the most commonly asked question related to intermittent fasting.
- Can an individual consume liquids during fasting?
Yes, you can consume water, tea, coffee, and non-calorie beverages while intermittent fasting. Make sure you do not use sugar in your drinks.
- Isn’t it unhealthy to skip breakfast?
No, the problem of skipping breakfast lies with those who follow an unhealthy lifestyle. If an individual is consuming healthy food throughout the day and has adopted a healthy lifestyle, it is perfectly healthy.
In recent years, intermittent fasting has become a fitness and health trend. It helps reduce weight, improves metabolism health, and can also extend a person’s lifespan. There are several methods, and each of these methods is very effective and beneficial, but first, you should figure out which one works best for you.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet plan that everybody needs to follow. It is merely a lifestyle strategy that can help in improving your health. Eating healthy food items, daily workouts, and maintaining a proper sleep routine is still a significant factor to focus on.